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Forum calls for investigation of SBS allegations

Forum calls for independent investigation of SBS allegations

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum is adding its voice to the growing calls for immediate action by the Government over serious allegations of police abuses against landowners in logging camps.

"We are increasingly concerned about the silence from our senior politicians on the allegations of human rights violations by police officers operating on behalf of logging companies,” says Kenn Mondiai, Chair of the Forum.

“While our leaders ignore this issue, every citizen is entitled to draw their own conclusions about how far the stench of corruption in the logging industry extends”.

The Forum is calling on the Prime Minister to immediately order a full judicial inquiry following the recent SBS documentary which featured one police officer confessing to serious beatings that he says were ordered by a named logging company and for which he was paid cash bonuses.

“The issues raised in the SBS program are of an extremely serious nature and this Government and the police have an obligation to set up an independent inquiry,” says the Forum.

Allegations of police abuses have been emerging from remote logging camps for many years.

“NGOs have many sworn statements on file and have tried to raise the issue through the proper channels with absolutely no success. There were also many allegations of police abuses documented in the recent Review of Current Logging Operations, but nothing has been done and we further challenge the government to act on those findings”.

The Forum wants to see an inquiry where all landowner concerns can be aired and police officers and logging company executives are compelled to give evidence under oath.

“For the Prime Minister to only criticise the journalist involved in compiling the SBS story and say nothing about the substance of the allegations raises real questions about this Government and its attitude towards corruption in the logging industry, the independence of the media, freedom of speech and protection of the rights of the people,” says the Forum.

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